Boxes everywhere, people running around, I hear Dutch, Polish, English, Ukrainian, everyone searching for someone that speaks the same language. “Where is the tape? Where does this go? Who has seen the shampoo?” Luckily unloading the van goes a lot quicker than packing it and before we know it there are piles with goods stacked nicely organized in what was 2 weeks ago still a ‘normal’ church. In the middle of Krakow this church is now changed into a 24/7 distribution center of donations coming in and going out. At least four times a day we are told a van filled with food and supplies drives into Ukraine to deliver to military troops and families who cannot get out. Another purpose for the church building is to be a temporary shelter for the refugees, upstairs we see many men and women, and even though I didn’t speak to many, the many stories that they carry along can probably fill a book of uncertainty, stress and tears. It makes me sad to know that they had to leave their homes, their elderly and their friends behind and that the future is so uncertain. When I speak with a girl who had to leave without her husband, I can feel the power of hope. She hopes to be able to reunite with her partner soon in Ukraine when the war is over. She holds on to that hope even though no one knows how the coming weeks or months are going to look like.
While we are busy organizing and making packages to send out, people walk in and out to the back of the church where they can take clothes and food to take away. Everyday many people come in to be able to eat or to send certain goods to their family. Here, also people can get help to find a next place to stay and we here that that is one of their biggest needs right now, to find space close by where people can take shelter. We are very impressed by what this church is doing, how they give their time and space completely in this time of crisis. Day and night volunteers are available, helping, cooking, organizing, cleaning, driving into warzone and it doesn’t stop. To have something like this running for weeks you need a long breath and lots of grace. I feel grateful that we could jump in and give a hand even if its for a day, also to have a laugh, to try to communicate through sign language and Catalina, to see the church alive and at work as it is supposed to. The goods we brought are ready and set to go at the end of the day and I pray that they will arrive safely at the right spots. Furthermore, I hope and I believe that we could bring the physical presence of brothers and sisters that are standing behind them and be an encouragement to keep going.